Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Phillips) of a Conversation With the Japanese Ambassador (Debuchi)
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The Ambassador informed me that Japan would officially withdraw from the League of Nations, probably some time next week. He talked at some length about the situation in which Japan would then be, which, in his opinion, parall[el]ed that of the United States; Japan, he said, would continue to cooperate with the League in disarmament matters and would also cooperate with the other powers at the forthcoming International Economic Conference. He emphasized the fact that Japan desired to cooperate in all measures preserving peace.[Page 254]
Mr. Debuchi then referred to the newspaper reports to the effect that Manchukuo was building a navy. These reports, he said, were, of course, utterly absurd, that Japan was building a few patrol boats for the Sungari River and for the coast, very much on the lines of our Coast Guard, that the largest vessels would not be over 200 tons and the smallest would be 15 tons.
The Ambassador then referred to the London Naval Conference and said he wished me to fully understand that Japan would withdraw from the Treaty at the end of the five year period. He explained the difficulties that had occurred in Japan upon the signature of that Treaty and said that Japan had only signed it because of its limited period of duration. It was a question of ratio, he said. Japan had further suggestions to offer and he assumed that the other powers equally had suggestions to offer, but he wished to make it quite clear that his Government would not prolong the existing Treaty.
Mr. Debuchi mentioned the military situation and said that from the reports which he had received no fighting was in process with the exception of a few mild skirmishes. The Chinese, however, were concentrating considerable forces to the south (of the Wall), but he sincerely hoped that they would not come into contact with the Japanese forces. He seemed to feel that the situation was far better than it had been a year ago and mentioned the then problems.
I made no comment other than that I was still worried by appearances in the Far East.